Our Ancestors Made Us Rich (or Poor)

According to an interesting new study, modern wealth and poverty in different regions of the world are predicted to an extraordinary degree by the state of technology in that region 500 years ago. It’s likely that our elites will find a way to ignore these findings. Not only do they undermine the convenient “blame the West” thesis, which supposedly provides a moral imperative for massive wealth transfers from the West to the developing world on the grounds that all the latter’s problems are the result of European colonialism (a phenomenon of more recent centuries), but they also throw into doubt the very efficacy of those transfers. I don’t go in for either technological or geographic determinism; I think we should at least consider the possibility that an explanation for this correlation is the scientific view of the world implied in the doctrines of Christianity. This is Rodney Stark’s argument in The Victory of Reason.

Speaking of wealth and poverty, one hopeful sign amidst the gloomy recession data is the increased savings rate, back up to over 6%. Still too low, but moving in the right direction. This commentator is one of the few mainstream ones I have seen who recognizes increased savings as a positive development; most are trying to figure out ways to get people further into debt in the name of stimulus.

In A.D. 455, Vandals sacked Rome. Their spiritual descendants are still active, but they

"The Vandals Pillage Rome" by Heinrich Leutemann (1824-1904)

refer to themselves as “artists” now and try to convince people they are performing a public service. Apart from being a tragedy-of-the-commons story, this shows the complete failure of Italian schools to teach students respect for their heritage.

A mosque 600 feet from Ground Zero . . . who could possibly have any objection? And of course we can count on New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman to provide an inane defense of the idea.

I know everyone is looking for an excuse to visit NW Arkansas, so I am happy to oblige: someone is building a French-style castle using only 13th-century technology.

Take a moment to look at this. Sigh in longing. Then go back to whatever you were doing.

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About Dr. J

I am Professor of Humanities at Faulkner University, where I chair the Department of Humanities and direct online M.A. and Ph.D. programs based on the Great Books of Western Civilization. I am also Associate Editor of the Journal of Faith and the Academy and a member of the faculty at Liberty Classroom.
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